It has been nearly three years since the world first learned of Covid-19. Since that time we have seen governments go from preaching, “we are all in this together,” to implementing some of the most divisive policies the free world has seen in generations without holding a single vote. It is safe to say that we all hope to never face another public health emergency like the recent pandemic. But if we do, it is important to learn from our mistakes and address the systemic issues that left so many Albertans feeling confused, frustrated, and ignored.
- No More Lockdowns: Even today we are still coming to grips with the economic and social toll that came with pandemic lockdowns. So many businesses, families, and communities were damaged by the lockdowns. The restrictions caused job losses, business losses, people have been jailed, fined, and some have even died. And now, at least three of the leadership candidates that had a front row seat while these decisions were being made, say that it was wrong, but said nothing until they started to run for leadership.
- No Vaccine Passports: No public policy has more deeply divided our province in decades. Whether ultimately deemed legal or not, the use of economic and social coercion to infringe on Albertans’ basic human rights was historically unprecedented. If we are to heal the division this has created, we must start by dumping the entire concept of vaccine passports once and for all. This means dismantling the QR Code system, and terminating any contracts related to its administration. It also means making it illegal to compel disclosure of vaccination status and amending legislation to prevent the use of coercion through the loss of livelihoods or civil liberties.
- End the Restrictions: Many believe the restrictions have been lifted. One of the most egregious restrictions still in place is that the unvaccinated cannot receive transplants. Its incomprehensible that someone needing a lifesaving or life altering transplant would be denied that based on vaccine status. Many of our post-secondary education institutions still restrict educational opportunities based on vaccine status. Our post-secondary education system is supposed to be providing an educated work force to supply our societies needs. Restricting our students based on vaccination status is hurting our society. Many municipalities and businesses restrict employment based on vaccination status. I’ve heard of harassment and bullying in the workplace, based on vaccination status. This discrimination needs to stop.
- End the lawsuits: We need to end any outstanding legal action against individuals, churches, and businesses charged under pandemic era health orders. There is no inherent value in prolonging this divisive battle against regulations that are already defunct. We have seen politicians blatantly breaking the Covid rules, like the Sky Palace drinking party that one of the candidates was involved in, but no one was charged or fined. Albertans detest, and rightly so, the double standard shown when those that directly implemented the rules, were blatantly breaking them while Albertans were being charged, fined, and arrested.
- Strengthening democratic oversight: It is not acceptable for Cabinet or bureaucrats to operate without a democratically expressed mandate for months on end. Democracy matters more during an emergency, not less. As such, the Legislative Assembly must be guaranteed opportunity for a full debate and a vote before any Public Health State of Emergency can be extended. This is vital, because during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, no such vote was ever held. If Justin Trudeau and the federal government must seek House of Commons and Senate ratification for the federal Emergencies Act, there is no good reason why Alberta’s government can’t seek similar ratification before extending a Public Health State of Emergency. This is covered in my Private Members Bill 202 that is before the legislature.
- Pandemic transparency: Cabinet and Medical Officers of Health must be required to table key health orders in the Legislature, and MLAs must have access to a process to review, debate, revoke, or amend some of these measures. This is necessary to provide clarity and counteract misinformation. During a Public Healthy State of Emergency, MLAs and the public need to know exactly what legal powers are being invoked. This is a measure designed to promptly address Albertans’ concerns and reduce unnecessary public frustration. This is covered in my Private Members Bill 202 that is before the legislature.
- Investigation into Pandemic Management (Royal Commission): Albertans want and deserve real answers on a variety of topics. What policies were implemented during the pandemic and what science they were based upon? What approaches worked? What policies failed? In addition, a full accounting of every dime spent by government during the pandemic is needed. Decision makers must be held accountable, and officials who cannot provide suitable justification for their actions must be publicly dismissed for cause.